THE NINTH WARD MARCHING BAND

YOU ARE
A CLOWDER
OF SCAREDY
CATS

SLOWLY
CREEPING
SNEAKIN' UP THE STREETS

YOU ARE
A NON-NATIVE
INVASIVE
SPECIES

SIMULATING HOME
SUNBATHING
IN SOMEONE ELSES BACKYARD

YOU ARE
A SORE SIGHT
THE BLIGHT
MARCHING IN UNIFORM

WHITE

RED AND SILVER
LINING
THE NIGHT

PERMITS

YOU TO HIDE
BEHIND
AN EYE PATCH

MASKING
AS COLOR BLIND

YOU ARE
RUNNING FERAL
SWEEPING THROUGH
THE NINTH WARD

CLAIMING
A HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD
AS IF
IT’S YOUR OWN


ST. CLAUDE ARTS DISTRICT

On the 3000 block of St. Claude Ave., there are a stretch of colorful shotgun houses that stand apart, fenced off, lining the street.  These four houses are unique in that they are connected by the large private green space that they communally share as their backyard.  

For the last eleven years and for one weekend only each year, the main gate was unlocked and the general public was invited and charged a general admission fee, to gain access to Chaz Fest, the Bywater festival which was annually held at this site, formerly known as The Truck Farm.  

Today, you may know it as what was once to possibly be The Sun Yard.  What you most likely don’t know is that for the past half year, two of these four houses have been activated by members of Level Artist Collective.  

As of Fall 2017, borne out of a pressing need for an alternative exhibition space and artists studios, Level Artist Collective has occupied 3024, 3026, 3030, and 3032 St. Claude Ave.  Their  temporary gallery, Double Shotgun is one of numerous artist run spaces that can be found along what has been coined as SCAD, short for The St. Claude Arts District.  

In writing about the history of The St. Claude Arts District, Eric Bookhardt states “By 2008, the three most high profile co-op or collective galleries, were all up and running.  All three are on St. Claude and all are broadly representative of the district. The first to open was the the Good Children Gallery, which was inspired by the original name for St. Claude Avenue--“Rue des Bons Enfants”--colloquially translated as “Good Children Street,” followed by the Antenna Gallery, part of the Press Street Literary and Visual Arts Collective, followed by The Front.”

“Representative of The St. Claude Arts District”, is not what comes to mind when one enters Double Shotgun.  In fact, it is the stark differences between Level Artist Collective and their aforementioned predecessors, that is of importance.  

The five founding members of the collective, Ana Hernandez, Horton Humble, Rontherin Ratliff, John Isiah Walton, and Carl Joe Williams are all artist of color.  Four of the artists are natives of New Orleans and one of whom, has generational roots grounded in the familial and cultural heritage of the St. Claude neighborhood.  

This is the same area that Eric Brookhardt described as, “historically marginal” and “seedy”.  This is an area where an influx of predominantly white, non-native transplants became pioneers of their new community.  This is where their investment and engagement in community building, is mostly only visible during their co-ordinated gallery openings on the Second Saturday of the month.  This is where they gather during Carnival season, to parade in the 9th Ward Marching Band, proudly claiming this historic neighborhood as their own. This is why it was long overdue for a space like Double Shotgun and members like Level Artist Collective, to organize and bring awareness to the underrepresentation of native artists of color who are so often subjected to the exclusion and erasure of art history.  And lastly, as Double Shotgun Gallery prepares to close it's doors, this is what you most likely missed:

LEVEL ARTIST COLLECTIVE PRESENTS INSIDE OUT: REFLECTIONS ON INCARCERATION IN LOUISIANA FEATURING KEITH CALHOUN GLENN FORD, ANA HERNANDEZ, MARIA HINDS, CHANDRA MCCORMICK, BRANDAN ODUMS, SHEILA PHIPPS, RONTHERIN RATLIFF, JOHN ISIAH WALTON, AND CARL JOE WILLIAMS

APRIL 14-MAY 27, 2018

Established in New Orleans in 2015, Level Artist Collective was founded by Ana Hernandez, Horton Humble, Rontherin Ratliff, John Isiah Walton and Carl Joe Williams. This collective is comprised of five New Orleans based artists who are first and foremost friends and four of which, are natives to the city.  Their union is the result of an organic formation of painters, sculptors, and writers whose different degrees of relations extend a multitude of connections. Through cohesion and the merging of creative resources, the objective of Level Artist Collective is to cultivate a platform that promotes, supports and sustains their individual and collective voice and vision.

Inside Out: Reflections on Incarceration in Louisiana 

Louisiana currently has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the United States (and the world), with 816 people in prison for every 100,000 residents. That’s nearly double the national average. Since the late 1970’s the number of people in prison has grown 30 times faster than the state’s population.

While New Orleans celebrates its “Tricentennial,” Inside Out seeks to recognize our incarcerated populations and provide insights into their lived experiences. Every day in the state of Louisiana thousands of people are enduring dangerous, torturous and inhumane conditions of confinement that have long lasting physical and psychological effects. Their voices are often marginalized, yet their resilience, creativity and experiences have much to contribute to the narrative of American life and history. 

Much of this exhibit relates to Angola prison or LSP (Louisiana State Penitentiary), an 18,000 acre maximum security prison located on the banks of the Mississippi river in central Louisiana on land formally occupied by slave plantations. Also known as ‘The Farm’, Angola houses 6300 incarcerated men, most of whom have life sentences among whom most will die in the prison. The Department of Corrections paired with a racially biased legal system, perpetuates a legacy of slavery by disproportionately targeting black, brown and poor white people for incarceration, the majority of whom are housed in for-profit facilities. One in eighty-six adult Louisianians are incarcerated, nearly double the national average. Among black men from New Orleans, one in fourteen are behind bars; one in seven are either in prison, on parole or on probation. 

Inside Out offers an opportunity to recognize people who are affected by mass incarceration,  whose lives and voices can teach us much about the American condition and ongoing histories of struggle for equitable social justice. 

 

LEVEL ARTIST COLLECTIVE PRESENTS LAND LINES FEATURING RON BECHET, WILLIE BIRCH, RONDELL CRIER, KEITH DUNCAN, ANA HERNANDEZ, HORTON HUMBLE, MARTIN PAYTON, PAT PHILLIPS, RONTHERIN RATLIFF, JOHN ISIAH WALTON, CARL JOE WILLIAMS, AND LORNA WILLIAMS

NOVEMBER 16, 2017-FEBRUARY 25, 2018

Established in New Orleans in 2015, Level Artist Collective was founded by Ana Hernandez, Horton Humble, Rontherin Ratliff, John Isiah Walton and Carl Joe Williams. This collective is comprised of five New Orleans based artists who are first and foremost friends and four of which, are natives to the city.  Their union is the result of an organic formation of painters, sculptors, and writers whose different degrees of relations extend a multitude of connections. Through cohesion and the merging of creative resources, the objective of Level Artist Collective is to cultivate a platform that promotes, supports and sustains their individual and collective voice and vision.

LAND LINES maps the pathways, both man-made and natural, that define the means of exchange within and across communities.  Using varying forms of mark making within their works as metaphor, the artists reveal patterns in the relationships between place, cultural expression, abuse of the environment, and the inequitable distribution of wealth and opportunities.